Monday, December 31, 2012

Meister's "Views of the Cruise" - Volume #1 - 2012 Recap

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MEISTER'S "VIEWS OF THE CRUISE" - VOLUME #1 - 2012 RECAP

It was around this time last year that I discovered, quite by accident that one of my favourite artists had released a new album, even with the internet I still manage to be behind the times....oh well!  My discovery took me to the band's official website in my search for information and album purchasing avenues.  An icon in the bottom right corner of the home page screen caught my eye, "Join us on the Monsters of Rock Cruise" it beckoned.  "CLICK".

I scrolled around the Monsters of Rock website with the excitement building as I saw the list of bands that were participating in this event.  Each and every day I would go to the site and learn about the cruise and the ship and go through the band list, dreaming and wishing that I could get on that ship.  Some of these bands were among the first records and cassettes that I had ever purchased and I'd never seen them live, mostly being to young to get into the bars last time they toured up here in the Great White North of Toronto, Canada!  All I talked about in the coming weeks to friends and family was this awesome cruise.  No-one took the bait or was even remotely interested in going with me, in fact from many I received answers like, "Who are they?" "Aren't they dead?" and that was when I mentioned what were surely household names like Tesla and Cinderella....that gives you an idea of my loneliness when it comes to music in this little town north of Toronto.  Still each day I would check the prices and availability of spots on board and surf around the Monsters of Rock website.  After about two weeks of hearing almost nothing but "Cruise, Cruise, Cruise", I am certain my friends had had enough, but it took my mother looking at me and saying, "You already know you're going, so just shut up and buy your ticket already!"  And she was right, I had made up my mind, just wasn't fully aware that I had I guess, now there was absolutely no question!  I will regret this for the rest of my born days if I don't get on this cruise!  After a long discussion (or argument) with my credit card I reserved my interior stateroom (cheapest) cabin, remitted the full payment and began to investigate flights from Toronto to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The line up aboard ship boasted an incredible 26 bands! Tesla, Cinderella, Kix, Night Ranger, Stryper, UFO, Y&T, Firehouse, Lynch Mob, Helix, Eric Martin (of Mr. Big), Keel, Black N' Blue, Faster Pussycat, John Corabi, Bang Tango, Rhino Bucket, XYZ, Odin, Flametal, DC4, Atomic Punks, Motley Inc, Ted Poley (of Danger Danger), Bill Leverty (of Firehouse) and Built By Stereo.  Plus Eddie Trunk and Luc Carl were also along for hosting this cruise of the high seas.  I was beside myself to finally get the chance to see UFO, Y&T, Keel, Rhino Bucket, Lynch Mob and Black 'N Blue.  The others were certainly not bad additions as well and I had previously seen Cinderella, Faster Pussycat and of course my fellow countrymen Helix.  With my my CD collection including discs from Tesla, Kix, Mr. Big, Danger Danger, XYZ and Night Ranger I felt I had a good basis of knowledge for attending this event, but I searched out information on the bands that I was not as familiar with or had never heard of, mainly Odin, Flametal and DC4.  I purchased a download copy of a Flametal album and after struggling through the first track shut it off about halfway through the second, just not my style, no need to fit them into my schedule aboard the MSC Poesia!  Odin and DC4 however produced quite the opposite affect on me and I immediately purchased what I could find of the discography of both bands.

The beautiful MSC Poesia was to set sail from Fort Lauderdale, departing at 7pm on February 25th, 2012 to Key West, Florida arriving there for 7am on February 26th and departing for Nassau Bahamas at 3:30pm.  Due to arrive at 10am in Nassau and set to depart at 6pm for the return to Fort Lauderdale arriving at 7am Tuesday February 28th, 2012.  Three days of the high seas, mass quantities of beer and non-stop rock!!  I only had an idea of what I was in for, but I was ready to saunter off on my own for this rock & roll adventure.

My journey started out leaving Toronto on a snowy/freezing rainy day heading north east for an hour layover in Montreal before flying direct to sunny Fort Lauderdale.  The weather wreaked mild havoc and held me up a little bit, but the delays were not excruciatingly bad.  I had decided to fly in the night before cruise departure because I know my luck and was determined not to "miss the boat" so to speak.  I landed in Fort Lauderdale, trading in the snow for the warmth and sun and caught a taxi to the Oasis Motel (a reasonable place that I had found on line with good Trip Advisor reviews).  The manager, Nelson, was a fantastic guy and my room was clean and serviceable, but a bit basic as one might expect with the value price.  Monsters of Rock was hosting a pre party with Kix headlining the night before embarkation, but as I was a latecomer to the ships' registry it was sold out and I could not get a ticket.  No matter, I had developed another plan anyway.....UFO was also playing a show that night at a place called Revolution Live.  My intent was to catch that performance as UFO was one of my top ten favourite bands of all time (no I'm not Eddie Trunk in disguise!) and I had never had the opportunity to see them live.  With the short delays in flights, by the time I got into the motel and had a shower it was already getting late and I was absolutely, ravenously hungry and tired from my day in the airports.  I reluctantly decided to forego my beloved UFO.  Hey, I'll catch them aboard ship still, right?

Checking out of The Oasis the next morning, I cabbed it to Port Everglades where our vessel lie in wait.  Boarding was set to begin around 1pm according to my cruise package, so I was in good time arriving about 11:30am.  I quickly spotted an obvious fellow Canuck as he was sporting a Saxon Heavy Metal Thunder Tour shirt with the Canadian Flag in the background of the picture.  Chatting quickly I learned that my fellow countryman was from Montreal and we eagerly discussed the Saxon show that we had seen in different cities and how it was a shame that they were not on board this adventure (little did we know that Saxon would be part of the 2013 roster!).  Making promises to meet aboard ship, I left him and his girlfriend to join the growing line up to board ship, meeting several other cruisers during the boarding process.  This was my first time on a cruise ship and I couldn't help staring at the sheer size of her as we were herded through roped off corals, feeling like cattle.  There were even a few "moos" erupt from the crowd from time to time.  Considered a smaller ship, it looked pretty damn intimidating to me any way.

Saturday February 25th, 2012
Once aboard the MSC Poesia, my first ever cruise ship experience, the maze of confusion and wrong turns began.  Even a ship map could not help me as I tried to locate interior stateroom #11039.  Finally finding it I dumped off my gear, locked my valuables in the safe, secured my ship layout map and my homemade schedule plan and set out to explore the ship, camera ready in hand.  What's this?? The bar is already open!  I'd better check out the frosty adult beverage selection.  The ship was magnificent and I quickly learned my way around (or so I thought), taking several pictures and stopping at a few beverage stations.  Life jacket drill was scheduled for, I think, 5pm and sounded a little scary to a guy who can't swim, but also excitingly necessary for a guy who can't swim.  Already viewing first hand, the bottom of several empty brown bottles and feeling a bit "buzzy" I returned my life jacket to my room and set off to the pool deck to participate in the "black-out photo" scheduled at 6pm with Tesla to take the pool deck Castle Donnington stage at 6:30pm for the sail away concert.

I secured a place on the upper railing looking down toward the stage as the crowd was already moving in and placed my beers at my feet.  I quickly drained my remaining bottles and was afraid to lose my spot if I went in search of more "nectar of the Gods", thankfully I met the couple standing next to me.  Jimmy and Susan (names changed to protect the innocent and last names are withheld to conceal the guilty) had found a bar selling "buckets of beer" and I happily assisted in rendering their bucket empty.  Several more buckets were secured during Tesla's performance which was quite impressive and I was left wondering how I'd never seen them live prior to this.

Jimmy and Susan didn't have a plan of what they wanted to catch next, so they readily agreed to follow my lead and head to the Monster Cafe at the Bar Dei Poeti on deck #6, midship, to catch John Corabi's acoustic performance.  Perfect and our bucket's empty, who's buy is it?  This is where I discovered that it didn't matter that I had scouted out the whole ship and knew where I was going when I was sober, 'cause it all goes out the window after a few hours of drinking!  We found the place and John put on a great performance, playing some Motley Crue tunes, Union and songs from his forth coming acoustic CD.  After that and a
couple more buckets o' beer it was off to the Zebra lounge also midship deck #6 to catch Bang Tango.  We were at the back of the lounge for Bang Tango and as the stage is quite low and neither Jimmy, Susan or myself are jolly green giants, we could not see much other than the tops of their heads.  They sounded good, but I understand that the singer, Joe Leste, had some seasickness issues and was rather ill. From there it was back to Bar Dei Poeti for Eric Martin, unfortunately by this point the beers had taken their toll on my already poor memory and I only know that I saw Eric perform because I have blurry, no flash used pictures of it!

From here I sobered right up, well at least a little bit, for what was one of the deciding factors of my joining the cruise and sure to be the highlight of the evening.....Keel's performance at 11:30pm in the Pigalle Lounge which was deck #7 aft.  I lost Jimmy and Susan at this point in the evening as they wanted to catch Lynch Mob's performance at the same time slot as Keel.  I had Lynch Mob planned for another day.  Still obtaining another beer, but slowing down in the consumption of it I refused to have another Bang Tango incident and arrived at Pigalle Lounge early and secured a spot at the front of the stage to the left.  Keel came on the
small stage and blistered through a 12 song set list of "Come Hell or High Water", "Somebody's Waiting", "Speed Demon", "Push & Pull", "Streets of Rock & Roll", "Because The Night", "Here Today Gone Tomorrow", "Rock & Roll Outlaw", "Looking For A Good Time", "Tears Of Fire", "The Right To Rock" and "You're The Victim I'm The Crime".  All of the guys looked so happy to be up on stage playing.  Marc Ferrari and Brian Jay were all smiles throughout the whole set, while Ron Keel led the charge.  Ron was very humble and certainly appreciated his long standing fan base.  Sure wish I had been sober enough to hold the camera steady and figure out the flash, but while my pictures did not turn out so well here's one from another cruiser that I found through a
Google search.  There are also fan-made videos of this show and others from the cruise available on "You-Tube".  Keel did not disappoint and after the show I lingered in the Pigalle Lounge talking to my "Saxon buddy from Montreal", when I saw Ron come out and sit down with someone.  I stumbled/staggered over and tried to show my appreciation by mumbling "Best show on the boat".  That was the only thing I managed to say to him, repeating it several times just like the needle got stuck on the old record, but I'm not sure I was even coherent enough for him to understand what I was saying anyway.  He shook my hand and smiled saying thanks, great I just made an ass of myself to one of my heroes, better get more beer to ease the humiliation!  Sin City Sinners were on stage next in the Pigalle Lounge and slated to play until 2am.  While they were sounding great, my over indulgence got the best of me and it was time to wander the halls of the ship in search of interior stateroom #11039.

Sunday February 26th, 2012
I rose quite early on Sunday February 26th and after stuffing myself at the breakfast buffet, was able to watch our ship slide into the pier of Key West, Florida right on our scheduled time of 7am.  I disembarked to wander Key West as I'd never been there before, seeing several fellow cruisers that I'd been acquainted with and waving.  Surprisingly I didn't feel so bad after my extreme amount of cocktails from the previous night,  Although it's quite possible that there was still a good quantity in my system and I was not yet sober enough to experience any sort of hangover.  While it was nice to have solid ground under my feet and Key West did look very nice, I discovered a drawback to travelling alone.  I was quite bored wandering the streets all by my lonesome on this Sunday morning where everything appeared closed.

I re-boarded the ship and wandered around the various decks trying once again to learn my way around, basically just killing time until Ted Poley of Danger Danger took the stage in the Bar Dei Poeti at 11:30am.  Ted and guitarist Maz, with special guest Gary Corbett from Cinderella, put on a great intimate show and Ted even joked about his stage fright being so close to us as we sat in big arm chairs like he was playing in your living room.  Half an hour after Ted's performance was Bill Leverty from Firehouse, so I hung around the area and obviously not learning my lesson from the previous day obtained my fourth beer of the morning....idiot!  I caught a couple
of songs from Mr. Leverty, but moved off in search of lunch.  My plan was to catch Stryper at 1pm for their only show of the cruise, but it had been announced last night that due to inclement weather Lynch Mob and Stryper had not been able to make the embarkation and departure process, but were enroute, hoping to catch up with the ship in Key West.  Due to that Stryper's 1pm show was obviously cancelled, which worked out great for DC4 who were slated to take the Zebra Lounge stage at 2pm.  Many of the Stryper fans found their way to DC4's set not even ever hearing of them before.  The Duncan brothers and Rowan
Robertson blasted through some great tunes from their Explode CD (which I had purchased and loved prior to cruising) and as their set went on more and more people were inching closer to the stage and getting into the performance.  DC4 gave out some CD's, but didn't have any of their newest CD for sale upon my asking as they had not expected a crowd reaction such as this.  They gained some new fans that Sunday and the crowd went from initially chanting things like "What's a Sunday without Stryper" to "DC4 saved our Sunday"

We were set to sail away from Key West at 3:30pm with KIX taking the Castle Donnington Pool Deck stage to see us off.  I weaved, well I've been drinking all day once again, my way through the ship, pit stopping at my near impossible to find except through sheer blind luck stateroom, up to the pool deck for the show.  I've long been a mediocre KIX fan, enjoying their Blow My Fuse and Hot Wire CD's, but for some reason never got into them beyond those two albums.....big mistake!!  With all the cruisers and Key West explorers back aboard ship we started to float away from the dock as KIX came on and owned the stage, with Steve
Whiteman being a very charismatic front man and telling hilarious "shit his pants on stage" stories.  The only thing that did not overly impress me was Steve Whiteman's rant about fans aboard ship stopping him to ask for autographs and pose for pictures, but the rocking performance that the whole band gave ensures that I'm a bigger fan after seeing them live.  I'm rather sorry that I missed the pre-party now and will never miss the chance to see KIX again if they ever make it to Toronto that is!  I'm now proud to say that I've gone out and purchased the entire KIX discography and watch out Steve I'll be hunting for your autograph and picture in the future!

So after killing the next hour with food and booze and random chatting, and or mumbling as it may have sounded with other cruisers and probably to myself as well, I sauntered off to the Carlo Felice Theatre located on the forward section of deck #6 for Night Ranger's 5:45pm show.  Night Ranger were certainly not one of the highlights of the cruise for me, but as there were no other shows scheduled at this time I figured what the hell, I did know a few tunes from the Greatest Hits CD that I owned.  Wow, another big mistake!!  These guys have to be seen live to be appreciated, the recordings just do not do them justice.  They were, as front man Jack Blades said a few times, just having fun with it.  The highlight was Jack announcing that guitarist Brad Gillis had once played with Ozzy and they launched into an absolutely killer "Crazy Train" cover.

Next I stumbled into the Zebra Lounge, which is quite a "trippy" room, all done out in a zebra pattern, after a few adult beverages.  I should mention that it seemed that the bartenders were slowing down in their service and generally looked confused behind their stations with the
onslaught of rock and roll animals.  Some bars were selling out of certain beer brands, the rumours that the supply was getting low and that they had had to take on more beer in Key West were abundant.  No matter, where there's a will there's a way, just smile, be friendly, leave a tip and buy two or three at a time.  I got great service at most bars and rarely waited long for my sweet beverages.  I weaselled up front for Helix to rock the Zebra Lounge, even though I'd seen my fellow countrymen before and had lots of opportunity to see them again back home, they always put on a great performance and this was no exception.  Earlier in the day while sporting my several years old Helix shirt and enjoying lunch at the buffet, someone approached and asked if the other seats at my table were spoken for.  I replied that they weren't without even looking up from shovelling the food into my mouth.  It wasn't until my table joiner commented "Nice Helix shirt, where'd you get it?" that I looked up and realised it was Brian Vollmer, lead vocalist for Helix that had joined my dining experience!

Running into Jimmy and Susan, we continued our quest to empty as many buckets o' beer as possible while we hung out in the Zebra Lounge waiting for Motley Inc. to entertain us with their Motley Crue covers.  They were excellent, but I cut short my viewing of their set to head again to Carlo Felice Theatre for Cinderella.  I'd seen Cinderella a few times back in the late 80's and early 90's and they were just as great now as they were then.  I was not sure what to expect as I've heard all the rumours that Tom Keifer's voice was blown and to top it off had gotten seasick making a terrible performance during their first show last night.  I'm happy to report that was not the case with Sunday's show and I look forward to seeing them again when the opportunity arises.

Next up I was back to the Pigalle Lounge for the much anticipated, by me anyway, Rhino Bucket performance.  Their Hardest Town CD from 2009 is high on my regular playlist and their other work is quite enjoyed by me as well.  I arrived early and was treated to the warm-up and sound check during which they played a few full songs and sounded fantastic.  Finally the lights dimmed for the midnight start and the boys ripped through a great hour long set list featuring songs such as "Hardest Town", "Who's Got Mine", "Justified", "I Was Told", "Beat To Death Like A Dog", "Ride The Rhino", "She's A Screamer" and the popular "Ride With Yourself" from the Wayne's World Soundtrack.  I was not disappointed with the show and lead vocalist Georg Dolivo was very friendly as he signed my Hardest Town CD cover.  Sin City Sinners were up again to take the rock party to 3am, but once again it was "Bedtime for Bonzo" here and I staggered through the halls, mumbling to myself as I searched out my home of interior stateroom #11039.

Monday February 27th, 2012
I once again arose fairly early and devoured breakfast, feeling no ill effects of the last two days indulgences, I went top-side and watched as we drifted into the pier of Nassau, Bahamas.  As you can
see by this picture of the pool deck there were not too many other cruisers awake and on deck yet to enjoy this beautiful sunny day.  I decided that I may as well get out and wander around Nassau even if it was by myself as there were no shows scheduled until 1:15pm.  I ventured out along the streets to the straw market and also past Senior Frogs and the Hard Rock Cafe.  Nassau was not overly exciting, maybe I should have looked into booking some excursions, but I had been too afraid to miss a great band during our time in port.

Relaxing back aboard ship I did some shopping for rock gear at the merchandise table located in
Pigalle Lounge as well as on the upper deck and basically killed time until Black 'N Blue stormed Castle Donnington in what Jamie St. James described as "the worst time slot on the boat".  They didn't let the sparse attendance stop them and they plowed through a killer set featuring all of the hit songs.  While I would have loved to have seen Tommy Thayer with them, you can't have everything and this is certainly another band that has to be seen live to be fully appreciated.  There are several videos available from fellow cruisers on "You-Tube" of this and other artists and shows from the cruise.

With only 15 minutes between the end of Black 'N Blue and the start of Odin, I hurried inside to Pigalle on deck #6.  Randy O still had the high pitched screech of his youth as they played classics like "Don't Take No For An Answer", "12 O'clock High", "Shining Love", "One Day To Live", "Little Gypsy" and "Over Your Head".  Odin was great and I wonder why they never got more recognition or a label deal, oh well, I'm happy to have discovered them and was thrilled with their set and Randy O's signing of my CD.

I now had a little time to wait, which was a good thing as I could feel the effects of the sun having slowly crisped the top of my bald cranium and reddening the back of my neck rendering me quite lobsterish, I retreated to my cabin for a quick nap and a shower to freshen up.  Then, after foraging for food at the buffet, I returned to the pool deck quite early for UFO's 6pm sail away from Bahamas performance.  UFO's Mechanix cassette was one of the first that I had ever purchased with my own money, choosing it simply by the cover art and not knowing a thing about the band at all.  That 1982 release is still a favourite of mine and gets regular play on my MP3 player.  This incarnation of UFO includes Phil Mogg, original vocalist as well as Andy Parker (the original drummer), Paul Raymond (guitarist/keyboardist since 1977) and relative
newcomer Vinnie Moore on guitar. Rob Deluca (of Spread Eagle) is the touring bassist in the absence of Pete Way.  While I would have loved to see the Michael Schenker era UFO with Pete Way as well, this was an excellent performance and the last two releases from them in 2009's The Visitor and 2012's Seven Deadly are two CD's that I seriously recommend that you obtain pronto!  As you might have expected they were introduced by long time fan Eddie Trunk, starting off the show as one of his favourite albums, Strangers In The Night, starts off....."Would you please welcome from England, U-F-O!"  They played all the classics and a couple of newer tunes, sadly nothing from my beloved Mechanix album which is understandable as I believe it's not widely considered as one of their better efforts.  At one of the longest sets aboard the ship UFO played for an hour and a half and the crowd loved every minute of it!

On a total buzz from seeing such a great show from my long time heroes and nothing whatsoever to do with the amount of beer in my system (wink, wink), I wandered into the Pigalle Lounge once again to find Faster Pussycat belting out their set.  I lingered long enough to hear a favourite of mine in "Jack The Bastard" and then, not really being able to see anything, the curse of being a short guy at the back of the crowd in front of the low sitting stage, I moved on, angling back up to the pool deck for Keel's second show of the cruise.

Keel really brought it for this second show and their job of closing out the Castle Donnington Pool Deck stage, they held nothing back, adding a few songs to the set list and giving everything they had into the performance.  At one point, during the song "Looking For A Good Time", as Ron Keel crossed to the left of the stage and out onto the speaker beside the stage he tripped on Geno Arce's bass patch cord and near fell off, being caught by Geno.  During this fall he kept on singing and didn't miss hardly a note or word that I could tell.  Once again there is "You-Tube" footage of this part of the show.  All in all Keel is one of the most entertaining bands I've seen live, no gimmicks or anything, just straight
ahead rock playing and letting the music stand for itself.  The tracks from the new Streets of Rock & Roll CD hold up fantastically next to the 80's classic Keel and I might just go so far as to say that the Streets of Rock & Roll may just be their best album, cover to cover, recorded to date!  In any case I sure hope they've got some more tunes in the works as I am now a full blown Keelaholic, finding myself repeating over and over in my mind the phrase "must buy Keel merchandise immediately."  Ron Keel invited some friends up on stage to help him out with their smash hit "The Right To Rock".  Brian
Vollmer (my lunch partner) from Helix, Jamie St. James from Black 'N Blue, Oz Fox from Stryper and Kyle Kreuger from Hair I Go Again.  That's just plain rock & roll fun at it's finest and everyone, musician and audience alike were having a blast.  After Keel closed up their show Ron proclaimed that "Keel has always been a people's band and that as soon as he gets off stage he's heading right over to the nearby merchandise booth and will stay as long as it takes to sign everything we want and get a picture with every one of his fans that have single handedly kept this genre of music alive!"  I met Kathy (real names with held to protect the innocent once again) and she graciously agreed to snap my picture with Ron if I would do the same for her.

My plan now was to catch Y&T's scheduled show in Carlo Felice Theatre as a "saving one of the best for last" kind of thought, but with all the inclement weather and Lynch Mob and Stryper missing the original embarkation there were several schedule changes.  Lynch Mob and Stryper did eventually catch up with the ship and boarded in Key West.  The story floating around amongst the cruisers was that the two bands had shared the rental of a bus and had driven to Fort Lauderdale to catch a short flight over to Key West.  I don't know about you but, I'm not seeing those two bands as being
great "travel in the same bus mates", but I've been wrong before!  Anyway, as a result Y&T's two performances were moved around a bit and I sadly succeeded in completely missing both shows, although I did purchase a Y&T shirt.  Instead of Y&T, Lynch Mob played in the time slot in Carlo Felice Theatre as the last concert of the cruise.  By this time I was really in an out of body (or mind) experience and don't remember much other than that they played the "heaviest Dokken song", "Tooth & Nail".


I slept well that night, a little too well and woke up in a panic as I realised that we had already reached the dock back in Fort Lauderdale.  Now where was I supposed to go to exit?  They had different floors meeting in different areas for disembarkation, but I of course had missed and/or paid absolutely no attention to the announcements.  I hurriedly packed up my gear and rushed out, waving a fond farewell to my old friend interior stateroom #11039 and headed down to the main lobby/reception area.  It may not have been where I was supposed to go, but I knew where the exit was!  Now I was a bit (OK, a lot) shaky on my feet and a bit (OK, a lot) queasy in the stomach this morning, the intake of the past few days was taking it's toll on me now.  I finally ventured out of MSC Poesia into the starkingly bright sunlight, hailed a cab and headed off to the airport to await my flight home to the Great White North.  Problem!!  With booking so late, there were not that many flight options available to me and at the time it didn't seem like a big problem to wait in the Fort Lauderdale airport until 10pm when my flight left.  Well now with my head pounding, stomach gurgling and whole body swaying (must think we're still on the water), the idea was rapidly losing lustre especially as it was only 9am!!  After choking down a light, but overly expensive breakfast, I found a luggage storage and secured my pack.  A short cab ride took me to Fort Lauderdale Beach and I walked along the sidewalk looking out over the ocean and beach on one side and the shops, restaurants and bars on the other, the sea air helping to clear the cobwebs.  I passed Route 66, the place where they had held the pre-party that I couldn't get into and several hotels as well.  What's the best way to help a hangover?  Hair of the dog!  Ah, this looks like a likely place I thought as I sauntered up to a bar stool looking out over the beach and ocean after I had walked from one end of the beach to the other, well as far as I felt like going anyways!  Better get a light beer I thought and ordered a few as I sat there whiling away the minutes until I finally reached my boredom limit and paid my bill, hailing a cab back to the airport to try and nap, still having some time prior to take-off. Napping failed and I found my self killing time in the airport bar over dinner and more beer, certainly I felt much better now, but the world was still swaying like we were still aboard ship.

There's the story of my adventure on the Monsters of Rock Cruise.  I highly recommend this to any rock fan,  It was just a great atmosphere to be in looking at the guy standing next to you in the crowd and realising he's from another band just watching the show.  There were a ton of other activities aboard ship other than the concerts such as "Luc Carl's Drunk Diet Workout" in the morning, "So you think you can shred" cruiser guitar competition, "Prom Night 1987", "Captain Jack's Shotgun Wedding", dancing going most mornings until 4am, artist meet & greets and "War Stories hosted by Eddie Trunk".  But I didn't get involved in any of those as I was there to see the rock and that I did, which left no time for anything else!  The total rocking party feeling and theme was upheld by all and there was almost more rock than I could handle!

In preparations for embarking upon this year's cruise (that's right, you couldn't beat me away with a stick!!)  I thought that I'd give you this recap of my travels and experiences aboard the MSC Poesia last year.  This year they've added an extra full day and even more bands and activities to the schedule!  We set sail March 16 from Fort Lauderdale, spending our first full day at sea on the 17th.  It's on to Coco Cay, Bahamas on the 18th, Nassau, Bahamas on the 19th and then back to Fort Lauderdale on the 20th.  The roster of great artists for Monsters of Rock: The Lost Weekend 2013 boasts: Queensryche, Saxon, Lita Ford, Loudness, Great White, Arcade, Dangerous Toys, Nelson, London Quieboys, Dio Disciples, L.A. Guns, TNT, JSRG (Vixen minus one member), Enuff Z' Nuff, Alcatrazz, Frank Hannon, Femme Fatale, Tony Harnell & Michael Sweet, Russ Dwarf, Jailhouse in addition to returning rockers Cinderella, Tesla, Kix, Stryper, Y&T, Keel, Helix, Rhino Bucket, Bang Tango, Faster Pussycat, XYZ, Black 'N Blue, John Corabi, Ron Keel and Ted Poley with a few more to be announced as the departure draws nearer.  That's 35 rock and roll acts so far!! Here's the official website: MONSTERS OF ROCK CRUISE and the Facebook link to interact with other cruisers: MORC FACEBOOK PAGE

I'm better prepared this year and will be leaving my frosty little Canadian town and arriving in Fort Lauderdale a couple of days early.  This year I won't miss the official Monsters of Rock pre party featuring an as yet to be announced performer.  I will even be attending another pre party on March 14th (put on by a fellow cruiser, not affiliated with MORC) featuring L.A. Guns, Bang Tango and Ted Poley of which there are still some tickets available for purchase to the public.

Watch for "Meister's Views of the Cruise" each week, where I'll feature articles, stories, interviews and band bios on many of these rockin' cruisers until my departure where you can then follow my escapades in my daily (providing I can get internet access) "Cruise Diary" featuring the pre-parties, life aboard ship, concert reviews and interviews (as you can see by the amount of drinking involved, please forgive any spelling and grammatical errors that may appear in my planned "Daily Diary"....lol).

I can't wait for this year's cruise......anyone else?  Let's meet for a drink at the bar for the sail away concert!  Any thoughts and speculations on who it might be this trip?

Stay tuned,
Cheers,
The Meister!


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Trash Cowboys

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While I was down in Memphis, Tennessee back in November for Tora Tora's 25th anniversary concert, I picked up some new discs from some bands unfamiliar to me courtesy of Steve Lockett at FnA Records.

Here is the third CD that I checked out: TRASH COWBOYS - The Good, The Bad & The Nasty

With a cover like the Trash Cowboys CD has I expected something dark and heavy for sure.  Inside the cover was a lovely photo of a naked young lady, right next to which was printed:  “The Sleaziest band in Los Angeles, better known individually as: Macc The Knife/vocals, Brad D. Lee Rude/guitar, Jamii Sinns/bass, Jojo “Dancer” Durant/drums, Nikki Sleaze/vocal on track 10-13."  This was sure to be just my style of rock, let’s hear it out……

All I can say is..........WTF?? I was shocked to hear the first track, which I can only describe as flaccid with a country flair and a limp chorus, called Fashion Girl.  I don’t like to be negative, but this was not at all what the cover had led me to believe would be in store on this listen and this was, quite frankly, crap! 

I persevered into track two, starting off with a western whistle and a catchy, hooky riff, this was much, much better, definitely sleaze.  The Bad Attitude moniker fit the song well.

Trash City, the third cut, was nothing special, but still kept the sleazy riffs going throughout.

When it’s Over starts out threatening to be another ballad, but it’s just an intro and then the song opens up into a great sleazy number that reminds me of Cheap Trick's Surrender for some reason.

Call Me Crazy, probably the stand out cut on this disc, explodes through the speakers next, starting at full throttle and staying there.  Very sleazy song reminiscent  in my opinion, of Faster Pussycat.

The next two tracks, Get Modern and Sweet Home Trouble, continue the sleazy feel of the listen and help me forget the tragedy of the first track.

The songs When It’s Over and Call Me Crazy appear again for the second time, followed by Lipstick Fixx and Pistol, which are great tracks, but have poor sound quality.  When It's Over and Call Me Crazy appear yet again to close out the album.

This 2012 FnA release is actually a compilation of three EP’s that the band unleashed.  The first five cuts are from 1991’s The Good, The Bad & The Nasty, with the next four making up 1989’s Sex Saloon, while the last four encompass 1987’s Lipstick Fix.  The sound quality of the last four tracks is horrible, but the music laid down is great.  So while decent songs the Lipstick Fix ones are poor sound quality demos and are really only useful to the true fan as the later recorded versions are much clearer and better.

After reading the liner notes I learned some interesting and perhaps mildly concerning things about the Trash Cowboys. Like for instance during the very first Trash Cowboys performance, Nikki Sleaze pulled out his unit in the middle of their third song!  The power was cut off and they were booted off stage and out of the club.  Apparently, this became a trend with The Trash Cowboys getting kicked out of almost every club they played, often in the middle of their set!  Now that’s trash and sleaze for damn sure!  The bad press in the papers served them well and they became in demand with line-ups forming outside their sold out shows as fans were eager to see what they would do next.  This behaviour and public demand won them the opening slot for Motley Crue on a 6 month world tour. 

Visit FnA Records' website at www.fnarecords.net and they have some short listening samples to find there if you want to hear some Trash Cowboys.  The CD is available for purchase separately or in a fan pack which includes your CD autographed by 3-4 of the original members.  Trash Cowboys also have a website: www.trashcowboys.us

Cheers,
The Meister

Friday, December 28, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wally's Top 10 of 2012

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Ok Geeks here is my Top 10 of 2012 in reverse order ....

10. Diemonds - The Bad Pack CD
















9. Tie Coney Hatch and Brighton Rock getting back together

 8. Adler - Back From The Dead












 

7. The TOUR - Kiss and Motley Crue tour together (my dream come true tour)

6. Kill Devil Hill - Both the album and getting to interview Rex Brown and Vinny Appice

5 Fraze Gang - Fraze Gang 2 CD

4. Automan - Backseat Surprise CD

3. Kiss - Monster CD

2. Van Halen - A Different Kind of Truth
1. The Decibel Geek Podcast - Easily the most entertaining thing in 2012!


Crue! Crue! Crue! - Motley Takes My Concert Virginity

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When Chris and AAron told me about the Motley Christmas show, I was thrilled. I couldn't think of a better Christmas gift for a total Cruehead like myself. So as I am listening to this weeks podcast, I decided to share the story of my very, VERY first concert. Yes that's right Sixx, Lee, Mars and Neil took my concert virginity a long, long time ago.

Rewind to spring of 1984, my friends and I are have dove head first into everything Heavy Metal. Def Leppard, Kiss, Quiet Riot, and of course MOTLEY CRUE are all we are listening to. Trips downtown to buy cassettes and t-shirts were weekly outings and many hours were spent reading the pages of Hit Parader and Circus magazines trying to learn more about our guitar wielding heroes.

Motley Crue had been on the road opening up for Ozzy but their popularity was growing fast. With a few days off on the tour they decided to book some headlining shows.

Then it happened, there in the concert listings of Circus magazine read the words "Motley Crue" - Toronto June 10, CNE Coliseum. As my buddy Scott and I walked to school I told him what I had read and without hesitation he boldly announced he was going to get tickets and "did I want one?"

I laughed at him and said "if you can get tickets, then I certainly want one!" I laughed again "c'mon this was never going to happen", Scott never had any money, his parents were way more strict than mine and besides concerts like this always sold out in mere minutes so there was no chance we were getting tickets to see the Crue.

Was I in shock a few days later when Scott informed me that I owed him 15 bucks for my Motley Crue ticket and proceeded to hand me my yellow ticketmaster, ticket to "paradise". My hands were literally shaking at the thought of seeing Motley live, adrenaline coursed through my veins and then suddenly my joy turned to panic as I suddenly realized my parents might not allow such an evening to transpire. I mean, hell I was only 14 years old! This was going to take some serious teenage maneuvering.

Scott and I discussed my "strategy" before I approached my parents. Scott's Dad was going to drive us to the show, wait for us and then drive us home. This was perfect because my Dad would never have drove to Toronto.

So I pleaded my case to Mom and Dad and ensured them that Scott's Dad was taking us to the concert (not a lie). I just may have forgot to mention that he was waiting outside and not actually attending the show with us (details, details). To my surprise it was a go!

The show was a Sunday. It was worse than Christmas as we counted down the days and hours before we would see the Crue. Sunday morning I was over at Scott's house ridiculously early and we sat in his backyard listening to the Crue cassettes wondering what we would soon get to hear, LIVE!

I remember driving along Lakeshore Blvd. in Toronto and seeing the marquee sign read "Tonight Motley Crue/Accept".  Accept what was that? Our tickets said that Saxon was the opening band? That was actually good news as neither of us had ever heard Saxon, but Accept had a pretty cool song "Balls to the Wall" that we were already familiar with. Bring on Accept!

The concert was general admission so by the time we rolled up to the lineup at 2 in the afternoon we were quite a ways back in the line. Wow what a site, spandex, leather, studs, tattoos. We were not in Kansas anymore Toto. We spent the afternoon attempting to fit in and look as cool as two 14 year old kids (and Scott's younger brother Glenn who was all of 12 years old) could look.

When they opened the door we made our way into the building deciding to get a decent vantage point up in the stands as the floor seemed a little too scary of a concept. Grabbing some decent seats we sat down as excited as I have ever been in my life.

When the lights went out and Accept hit the stage it was LOUD. Ear splitting, oh my god that hurts kinda loud. It took the better part of the first few songs before my ears adjusted and I witnessed Accept burn through a blistering metal set. It was all unknown music except the last song but it was raw, powerful and loads of fun.

The houselights went out and the smoke machines were turned on and the familiar voice of "Allister Fiend" came through the PA, "In the Beginning...." Holy Shit we were in the same building as Motley F'n Crue! and they launched into Shout at the Devil with smoke and pyro and leather and studs! For the next 90 minutes we screamed along to every word as they played most of the songs from their first two albums. They were everything we saw on TV, larger than life rock gods and for three young kids experiencing their first rock concert, it was out of this world.

Nikki Sixx instantly became my hero. The way he owned the stage and beat on his bass he was so cool. I made up my mind that day that I wanted to play the bass. By the time we got home plans were underway to form our own band and take on the world!


Getting to see Motley Crue in a small arena just as "Shout at the Devil" was taking off was amazing. They were young, hungry and totally insane. They were a "gang" before the drugs and egos and success. It was Motley Crue at their best and a concert that is forever burned in my memory.

Crue! Crue! Crue!








Episode 65 - A Very Motley X-Mas

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Since the world didn't come to an end last week (check out our Songs for the Apocalypse episode), we are thrilled that we can celebrate Christmas with you all!

Since the very beginning of the Decibel Geek Podcast, we've received an increasing number of requests for a Motley Crue special. So, with this being the season of giving, this week we decided to have A Very Motley X-mas.

In this episode, Chris & Aaron randomly select albums from the Crue's 30+ studio discography and spin one song they'd like to share with the listeners from each. You'll hear songs from the 1981 debut, Too Fast for Love, all the way through 2008's Saints of Los Angeles.

Also included in this episode are a couple of our famous Deep Thoughts With....segments; this week including one from Nikki Sixx and one from Tommy Lee. Thought provoking stuff, indeed.

With Motley Crue, controversy is never far away and their press headlines tend to overshadow a lot of great hard rock music. With that in mind, we made a conscious effort to stay away from all of the off-stage drama and focus squarely on the music as this is a celebration, not an expose.

We solicited some listener picks through our Decibel Geek Fan Page as well as from the die-hard Crue heads over at the Motley Shout boards. Did some of their suggestions make our list? You'll have to listen and find out.

We hope all of you Motley Crue fans enjoy this audio look back on their career.

As for the future, Nikki Sixx revealed in a Facebook response that there definitely will be a new Motley Crue record and it will be "the best one yet."

Former Motley Crue front man John Corabi has recently released an all-acoustic album entitled John Corabi Unplugged on Rat Pak Records.

The album features renditions of songs from his days with Motley as well as  his pre-Crue band The Scream and post-Crue band Union. It also includes 5 new songs and an interview. Go to www.johncorabi.com to check it out and buy it.

And if this episode inspires you to want to beef up your Motley Crue collection.....go Buy It Here!




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